17 December 2007

Delany Week at Strange Horizons

Over at Strange Horizons, the reviews department is devoted to the work of Samuel R. Delany this week, and it begins with my essay "Night and Day: The Place of Equinox in Samuel R. Delany's Oeuvre", which is a piece I cobbled together from various fragments of academic writing. It originally had footnotes, much more jargon, etc., and then Niall Harrison did a heroic job of editing it, and I went back and rewrote various parts, to turn it into what it is now. (Some clunkiness still remains, because I decided that preserving a couple of ideas was more important than giving readers smooth transitions, so I hope you'll forgive me.) The whole process produced my favorite editorial suggestion of all time, at least among editorial suggestions I've received: "Maybe better to omit the next two paragraphs and skip straight to the sex?"

Keep your eyes on Strange Horizons this week, as Graham Sleight will be writing about Delany's short fiction, L. Timmel Duchamp will be writing about About Writing, and Paul Kincaid will be writing about Dark Reflections (which I wrote about a few months ago).


  1. That was good. Maybe it's just because I'm fairly tired, but it didn't feel too broken a beast to me. Quite accessible, even. Likely all writing would be better if we just got to the sex.

    It's funny to me how much Delany, and you in reviewing him, draw conclusions from progression and geneology within his own ouevre. It leads to some excellent analysis, but feels a little, I don't know, teleological? mythic?

  2. The weakness of a linear, chronological approach may be that it seems teleological -- or we could say its strength is that it is not ahistorical. But I can't claim philosophical reasons for why it's how I tend to write about Delany. It's an approach I favor at the moment because it's allowed me to notice elements of the work I would not have otherwise.

  3. Myself, I find it difficult to avoid such a mythologizing approach with Delany because from early on he's had a tendency to embed intratextual references in his work. Through the first decade of his career he presented a fairly stable set of motifs with increasingly disruptive arbitrariness, and their culmination / summing-up in Dhalgren more or less overlapped with the start of the Modular Calculus quasi-series.

    As experimental confirmation of sorts, it's notable that Matt and I both take Equinox as the myth's pivot point.